Winterhill Comprehensive Students contacted us six years ago, wanting to help us improve a local wildlife area, a pond, hedgerow and trees. Students from Years 9, 10 and 11 have all been involved in every aspect of the work. Each year as Year 11 leave, Year 8 students move to the Year 9 group. The pond was over grown, the hedges and tree areas were full of litter, access and footpaths were poor. The area is a gateway to large area of meadow and woodland.
They have cleaned the pond, removed old timber decking, planted trees, removed numerous skips of litter, sowed meadows, managed meadows, put in footpaths and installed a bench. This project has directly to wider community input, local businesses becoming involved and latterly the proposal to plant 3,000 trees. The students have raised around £10,000 themselves from bids.
The project has two elements, improving biodiversity and empowering young people so they know they can make a difference. The first element is being achieved, the pond and its surrounding environment are coming back to life. The second element is clearly happening. The students have worked in freezing conditions, wind, rain and hot sun. They turn out on Saturday mornings twice a term. During this work they have developed confidence, leadership skills, knowledge about the environment but most of all they know that they can make difference. It is a real pleasure to watch the older students passing on their experience to the newcomers to the group.
What we are achieving is helping young people know that they are important in the helping stop the environmental crisis. They are doing this by doing something in there local environment.
This is a project inspired by the students at Winterhill School. For it to be successful it has to be led by them and guided by countryside rangers and teachers. Allowing them to develop skills in areas such as risk assessment gives them real-world knowledge.
Allowing the school pupils to make mistakes or to experience elements not working as they predicted is important. Furthermore, letting them experience how difficult some jobs are is essential, as is letting them enjoy successes.
Number of trees planted and range of biodiversity.
Improvement in the knowledge and skills of school children, such as leadership, communication, environmental awareness and confidence.